Gracen Woods


Gracen Woods, from Centennial High School in Franklin, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2001, which affects only 300 children annually. Her prognosis was not good. After 42 rounds of chemotherapy, several blood transfusions, and multiple surgeries, she has been in remission for the last 13 years. Her early home life was in an abusive and violent home, never knowing what was going to happen. During her seventh grade year, her mother, brother, and she moved out. Her family’s financial struggle continued, living hand-to-mouth.

Then, in 2012, she endured a violent assault and today struggles with mental scars from this experience. She began to realize that she could not change that night, yet could turn the trauma into something that could help her relate to others.  At age 17, Gracen was told to move out before her 18th birthday. With the support from her aunt, close friends, and other “family” members, Gracen lives on her own. She maintains straight A’s in her regular and in her AP classes.

Gracen is also President of the Habitat for Humanity Club and works on the Yearbook. She is a member of the National Honor Society, National Technical Honors Society, and Mu Alpha Theta.

Joyce Hollins, her school counselor observes, “Resilience is something Gracen Woods began learning as a small child — the art of bouncing back, the will to keep going, flexibility, having a sense of humor, and finding hope in something small….”